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t high production temperatures, these vacuum pumps were unacceptable.

A the quality of polymers manufac-

tured by Allied Colloids, Inc.
(Suffolk, Va.) starts to suffer. The prob-
A dry screw
vacuum pump
After examining other alternatives
Allied Colloids chose the Cobra C400
dry screw vacuum pump from Busch Inc.
lem is that at temperatures above 85C, produces vacuum (Virginia Beach, Va.). Unlike the other
the polymer’s molecular weight de- pumps, the Cobra can reach vacuum lev-
creases, severely affecting its perform- levels that stave els as low as 7.5 x 10- torr. At this level,
ance in wastewater treatment.
The polymer works by attaching itself
off thermal the polymer can be processed at temper-
atures less than 85C.
to material in the wastewater, and sink- degradation Although the capital cost of the
ing the mass to the bottom of the stream. Cobra is higher than the oil-sealed and
With a lower molecular weight, the poly- Typically, the firm uses an oil-sealed liquid-ring vacuum pumps, it makes up
mer is less effective at weighing down pump or a liquid-ring vacuum pump as a for the difference in waste disposal costs.
the suspended matter. Thus, greater source of vacuum. However, oil-sealed The Cobra operates oil-free, generating
quantities of the polymer are needed to pumps usually have a vacuum level of no waste, whereas the other two pumps
treat the wastewater, driving up the cost 0.5 torr and liquid-ring vacuum pumps, a produce waste that must be treated off-
of treatment. For this treatment to be cost level of 50 torr. At these vacuum levels, site. Typical disposal costs are
effective, Allied Colloids needed to find the lowest attainable temperature is 93C. $400/drum for an oil-sealed pump, and
a way to produce the polymer without At 8C over the desired temperature, $250/drum for a liquid-ring pump.
thermal degradation.
Crucial to polymer production, is the
water-solvent evaporation stage, per-
formed under vacuum conditions. At Inlet
deep-vacuum levels, less steam-generat-
ed heat is needed to drive off the water
and solvent, says John Kasmark, process
engineer at Allied Colloids. This helps to
keep temperatures low and insure that
the polymer quality is not destroyed.


Allied Colloids was impressed with the Cobra’s simple, single-stage design,
that requires no intercoolers. Gases are trapped between flights of the screws and
moved axially down a short straight flow path to the exhaust. The design is unlike
other pumps that have tortuous gas paths requiring the gas to pass through multi-
stages. This can result in potential danger of plugging, erosion and corrosion.
Since February 1996, the Cobra has been operating at Allied Colloids 16 h/d,
At Allied Colloids, use of the COBRA and will increase to 24 h/d in the spring of 1997. With increased performance, the
C400 has been a success. In addition to payback time, originally estimated to be 2.5 years, has been reduced to 2 years.
generating vacuum levels need to maintain
polymer integrity, this environmentally

CHEMICAL ENGINEERING, April 1997, Edited by Kristine Chin